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CANADA DEPARTMENT OE AGRICULTURE PUBLICATION 1095 1965 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada 



http://www.archive.org/details/lacombebreedOOfred 



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In 1957 the first breed of pigs devel- 
oped in Canada was registered. It was 
developed at the Experimental Farm, 
Lacombe, and was named "Lacombe." 

Commercial breeders have fostered 



a steady expansion of the breed and, 
in 1963, 2,145 pedigree certificates were 
issued for purebred Lacombes. They 
represented 11 percent of all swine 
pedigrees issued that year in Canada. 



DESCRIPTION 



The Lacombe is a white breed with 
flop ears. It is low set and has long, 
deep sides and full, meaty hams. 
Mature boars weigh from 600 to 900 
pounds and sows from 500 to 800 
pounds. The breed is docile, the pigs 
are easy feeders and the females good 



mothers. Gilts wean about seven pigs 
per litter and sows eight or more. The 
pigs are large at birth, weighing about 
three pounds. With adequate manage- 
ment and feeding they are heavy at 
weaning and reach market weight at 
about 51/2 months of age. 



ELOPING THE BREED 



In 1946, a committee was set up by 
the Department to suggest methods for 
improving the quality and quantity of 
Canadian pig production. One of its 
recommendations was that use of 
hybrid foundations be studied as a 
basis for developing new breeds suit- 
able to Canadian conditions. 

The specifications for any new breed 
were: 

When bred pure it was to produce 
large litters of high quality. 
When crossed with the Yorkshire 
it was to produce vigorous, 
growthy pigs of good carcass type. 



It was to be white, with a fuller, 
meatier ham than the Yorkshire 
and a lighter shoulder. 
It was to maintain these standards 
under self-feeding. 

The breeds used in the foundation 
stock had to have the characteristics 
desired in the new breed and be genet- 
ically distinct from each other. It was 
especially important that the stock be 
unrelated to the Yorkshire, so that 
crossing the new breed with Yorkshires 
would give adequate hybrid vigor. 



3 



The breeds chosen were the Berk- 
shire, the Danish Landrace and the 
Chester White. They originated in 
Britain, Denmark and the United 
States respectively. The Berkshire, with 
its reputation for high milking capacity 
and full hams, was chosen as the female 
side of the foundation. Ten females 
were purchased from three long-estab- 
lished Berkshire breeders in Ontario: 
R. H. MacGregor and Son, Amherst- 
burg; R. Chinnick and Son, Chatham; 
and J. B. Spence and Son, Northwood. 
For the white color, length and other 
desired carcass characteristics, four 
Landrace x Chester White boars and 
one inbred Danish Landrace boar were 
purchased from the United States De- 
partment of Agriculture. One Land- 
race-Chester White boar bred at Wash- 
ington State College, Pullman, and one 
Danish Landrace boar bred at Iowa 
State College, Ames, were also used, 
through courtesy of K. Magnusson, 
Fogilvik Farms, Innisfail, Alberta. 

Breeding and Selection 

The first litters from the foundation 
stock were farrowed in the spring of 
1948. The gilts produced were mated 
with hybrid boars and with new foun- 
dation boars. The intermating and 
backcrossing were continued until 
1951, to promote combination of the 
desired traits. After 1951 no more of 
the foundation stock was used and 
controlled inbreeding (using at least 20 
boars for each generation) along with 
intense selection was adopted to de- 
velop the breed. 

Selection in every generation was 
based on performance concerning fac- 
tors of economic importance. A sample 



of each litter was self-fed under stand- 
ard conditions to measure genetic 
potential for growth rate, efficiency of 
feed conversion and carcass quality. 
The remaining pigs were raised on 
pasture as potential breeding stock. On 
completion of the performance tests, 
breeding stock was selected on the 
basis of: 

Performance of the litter for num- 
bers weaned and weaning weight. 
Performance of the litter mates for 
carcass quality, growth rate and 
feed requirement. 

Individual merit in weight for age, 
vigor, physical soundness, strength 
of feet and legs, and number of 
normal, well-spaced teats. 
All pigs retained for breeding had 
above-average performance. 

Genetic purity for white was obtain- 
ed by culling all animals that carried 
the gene for black inherited from the 
Berkshire. To identify such animals, 
all Lacombes that entered the breeding 
herd after 1954 were test-mated with 
purebred Berkshires. Those producing 
pigs with black hair were culled. Hence 
genetic purity for white was fixed in 
two generations of testing. 

Evaluation 

Throughout its development, the 
breed was compared with the York- 
shire. Records for 318 contemporary 
litters of the two breeds summarized in 
1956 showed that the Lacombes aver- 
aged 0.6 pound heavier at birth and 6 
pounds heavier at weaning than York- 
shires, and went to market 17 days 
earlier. The breeds were similar in 
number weaned (8.3 pigs per litter) and 
percentage of Grade A carcasses (78). 



4 




Figure 1 — A Lacombe gilt. 



In field tests of 60 large herds during 
1954-57, Lacombe boars crossed well 
with Yorkshire sows to produce a com- 
mercial pig of superior carcass quality 
and with hybrid vigor for rapid growth. 



Comparisons with Yorkshires in com- 
mercial herds and at the University of 
Alberta showed that the crossbreds 
rated higher than purebred Yorkshires 
by the following percentages : 




representatives of the Alberta Federa- 
tion of Agriculture, the University of 
In 1957 an advisory committee re- Alberta, and the Alberta and Canada 
viewed all of the research information departments of agriculture. It concluded 
on the breed. This committee included that the Lacombe was equal to the 



5 



Yorkshire in litter size and carcass 
quality and superior in birth weight, 
weaning weight and rate of growth after 
weaning, and that crossbreds from 
Yorkshire dams and Lacombe boars 
excelled in vigor, growth rate and 
carcass quality. Hence the committee 
recommended that the breed be reg- 
istered and distributed. 

In September 1957, the breed was 
accepted for registration by the Cana- 
dian National Livestock Records 
Board and 397 pedigree certificates 
were issued to cover the foundation 
herd. 

Boars were first distributed to the 
public in October 1957. A year later 



the first females were distributed. These 
were sold in breeding groups of three 
gilts and one boar, and went to breeders 
in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba 
and Ontario. By the final distribution, 
held in October 1960, a total of 154 
breeding groups had been placed across 
Canada. 

The stock released in 1958 averaged 
12.8 percent inbreeding and was 6.4 
generations removed from the founda- 
tion stock. The pedigrees traced to 
seven foundation Berkshire females and 
seven foundation boars. The percentage 
contributions of the foundation breeds 
were: Landrace, 56; Berkshire, 23; 
and Chester White, 21. 



SOCIETY 



The Canadian Lacombe Breeders' 
Association was incorporated under 
the Live Stock Pedigree Act on Septem- 
ber 9, 1959, after a meeting of Lacombe 
breeders held on August 10, 1959, at 
the Experimental Farm, Lacombe. This 
meeting approved a constitution incor- 
porating rules and regulations to 
govern selective registration. 

Only for Lacombes is there selective 



registration based on performance po- 
tential. The boars cannot be registered 
unless their litter mates or parents, 
when tested under the Canadian policy 
for Record of Performance (R.O.P.), 
have met specified standards for rate 
of growth, efficiency of feed utilization 
and carcass quality. Hence, pedigree 
certificates for Lacombes provide proof 
of performance potential. 



PORTING LACOMBES 



Before 1962 the export of Lacombes 
was prohibited. The embargo was lifted 
on February 5, 1962, and sales were 
soon made to breeders in the United 
States. Since then, Lacombe pigs have 
also been exported to Great Britain, 



Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the 
Dominican Republic. Breeders in 
the United States formed a breed asso- 
ciation in 1963 and adopted selective 
registration patterned after that 
required in Canada. 






CAL/BCA OTTAWA K1A 0C5 




3 9073 00185018 1 



In Canada-wide R.O.P. tests for 
1960-63, the breed excelled in rate of 
growth and produced carcasses of high 



quality. It rated as follows in compar- 
ison with the Yorkshire and Landrace : 




Year 

1960 No. of litters tested 

Average carcass score 

Average age to market, days. . 
Pounds feed per cwt. live gain 

1961 No. of litters tested 

Average carcass score 

Average age to market, days. . 
Pounds feed per cwt. live gain 

1962 No. of litters tested 

Average carcass score 

Average age to market, days. . 
Pounds feed per cwt. live gain 

1963 No. of litters tested 

Average carcass score 

Average age to market, days. . 
Pounds feed per cwt. live gain 



Yorkshire Landrace 



129 


848 


77 


76 


172 


186 


350 


353 


274 


732 


16 


76 


168 


182 


346 


346 


350 


732 


75 


76 


169 


183 


345 


349 


230 


949 


78 


77 


168 


182 


340 


342 



146 

76 

185 

372 

147 

79 
178 

352 

182 

79 

179 

352 

167 

77 

176 

352 



Mr. J. G. Stothart and Dr. H. T. 
Fredeen directed the development of 
the Lacombe breed. Dr. J. A. Newman 
and Dr. G. H. Bowman, Animal and 
Poultry Breeding Section, Experimental 



Farm, Lacombe, were largely respon- 
sible for directing the field testing. Dr. 
Bowman is now on the staff of the 
University of Guelph, Ontario. 



Copies of this publication may be obtained from: 
INFORMATION DIVISION 

CANADA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

OTTAWA 



Roger Duhamel, f.r.s.c, Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationery, Ottawa, 1965 
15M-32509-8:65 Cat. No.: A63-1095